SCA: Young and In Love With Conservation

“Photo Courtesy of Student Conservation Association. All Rights Reserved.”

Are you or do you know a young adult who is interested in the environment and conservation, but doesn’t know how to get involved? If you do I would suggest you check out the Student Conservation Association, better known as “America’s Conservation Corps” or SCA. SCA has programs in all 50 states for high school students, college students, and recent graduates, interested in conservation and the environment.

I first heard of SCA a few years ago, when one of my close friends moved up to a National Park in New Hampshire, to work with High School Students on trail maintenance. When I would get the chance to talk to her while she was working there, I was always impressed (and jealous) of her experience. I finally visited her and I was blown away by all the work her and her crew mates had completed. Before, I had taken for granted the uptake required for keeping America’s National parks useable, now I know that it’s our country’s youth that keep are parks running smoothly.

SCA is a pioneer on all fronts. It was one of the first modern service corps, founded even before Peace Corps and Americorps.  SCA was also founded before the EPA and the enactment of the Wilderness Act.

SCA was founded in 1957 by Liz Putnam, while a student at Vassar College. Putnam modeled SCA after the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program from the 1930’s and 1940’s, as part of the New Deal. Unlike the CCC, which recruited unemployed and unmarried men to service parks , SCA relies on  students.

Since its founding in 1957, more than 70,000 young adults have done work with SCA, providing over 28 million hours of service. In 1994 SCA became partners with Americorps and are their largest conservation partner. In 2010 Liz Putnam received a Presidential Citizens Medal from Barack Obama for her work with SCA on conservation.

SCA provides a range of programs to fit the schedules and interests of members including a Alternative Spring BreakHigh School Summer Program,  Saturday ConServevation programs  in New York City, and internships and national and community crews to name a few. Program length varies and some programs last up to 12 months. Depending on the location, service projects range from trail maintenance to wildlife management and nature interpretation. Many of the projects require crews to do work off-the beaten-path, requiring members to camp out.

SCA is a great option for anyone who loves the great outdoors. It provides a way for students and young adults to fight back against the daily degradation that happens to nature and the environment. By working in small teams, SCA volunteers learn leadership skills and get the opportunity to make long lasting friendships with a diverse group of people who share similar values toward the environment.


“Photo Courtesy of Student Conservation Association. All Rights Reserved.”



by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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